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New Effort to Help Ohio Kids with Hearing Issues


Monday, May 11, 2015   

CINCINNATI – May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, and health agencies around Ohio are collaborating to try to reduce the percentage of children with hearing problems.

Newborn hearing screenings are standard in Ohio, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) almost 25 percent who need further testing actually do not receive a follow-up evaluation.

Wendy Steuerwald, an audiologist with Cincinnati Children's, says newborn hearing loss is fairly common, but the impact can be dramatically minimized with early intervention.

"There's a great potential that we have children who are not hearing as well as they should be hearing and therefore aren't getting the intervention services,” she points out. “If they receive early intervention, then they are going to get the intensive speech-language therapy, which they need."

Cincinnati Children's, Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Ohio Department of Health are among those involved in the newly formed Coalition of Ohio Audiologists and Children's Hospitals.

Steuerwald says the coalition’s goal is to improve the outcomes of hearing-impaired children while also informing parents to have their newborn checked sooner rather than later.

Steuerwald stresses there is an important connection between language and hearing. She says a child's speech delay sometimes can be caused by an underlying hearing problem.

"When we talk, we repeat what we hear,” she explains. “And if you don't hear things correctly, then you're not going to learn how to produce them correctly."

To ensure the best possible outcomes for a child, Steuerwald says parents and pediatricians need to follow the CDC's 1-3-6 plan.

It recommends that a child have a hearing screening before one month of age, a hearing-loss evaluation before three months and specialized early intervention by six months.

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